Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Vincent wants to sea (3½ Stars)

This is so annoying. Who picked the stupid name for this film? I haven't been so annoyed by a film's name since "Inglourious Basterds". The original German title of the film is "Vincent will Meer", i.e. "Vincent wants sea". A direct translation would have been suitable, but some joker in the film distribution offices thought differently.

The title character, Vincent, is a 27-year-old who suffers from Tourette Syndrome. His father, a CSU politician, can't deal with him, so he puts him in a special clinic for people with incurable mental illnesses. I have to explain what Tourette Syndrome is, because I knew almost nothing about it before watching the film. The symptoms are involuntary twitches, unwanted even though the person feels them about to happen in advance, like a sneeze. In the case of adults the twitches are accompanied by outbursts of foul language. The causes of Tourette Syndrome are unknown, and there is no cure, but in most cases it begins in early childhood and stops by itself in teenage years. Adults with the disease are socially inept and unable to fit in with others.

At the clinic a romantic relationship develops with Marie, a young woman suffering from anorexia. Afraid that she will be force fed, Marie steals the keys of the psychiatrist's car and flees with Vincent and Alex, a patient suffering from OCD. Vincent says he wants to drive to Italy to see the sea, so the three drive southwards, with Vincent's father and the psychiatrist in hot pursuit.

I have sympathy with the father. Tourette Syndrome is a very difficult illness to deal with. If it were my son I would have trouble accepting him. I would try my best, of course, but I don't want to judge others for pushing their child away when I'm not sure that I wouldn't do the same myself. The film won many awards in Germany, and I do admit that it is heartwarming at times, but Vincent's illness makes him visually an unattractive character.

Heino Ferch (Vincent's father) and Karoline Herfurth (Marie) are two of the best actors I know. Karoline is so thin in the film because she starved herself for the role. In an interview on the DVD she said that it was a very difficult role for her to play, because she couldn't prevent herself from identifying with Marie, and she was beginning to hate herself. The role was eating her up. That's sad, but it shows what a good actress she is.

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